Massive Change – Life-Centred Design

Recently, Touchpoint publisher Prof. Birgit Mager sat down with design pioneer Bruce Mau to discuss his recent thinking about enterprise design, the significance of canoe-building and life-centred design.

Birgit: Bruce, you work across all silos of design and business. What made your approach so holistic?

Bruce: You know, it happened very organically. I think part of it has to do with not being educated. I only went to art school for a year and a half. So, I didn't really learn what the different disciplines were and what the boundaries were. I didn't know there were boundaries! I really fell in love with putting images and words together. And that turned out to be graphic design. So, I was called a graphic designer! Then clients started to ask me to do more and more. And to really start to design what they do and not just what they look like, so they would ask me to help them define their organisation, define their institution, their brand, their business. Sometimes it was triggered by a project to design what they look like and that engaged a set of questions about what they do, and then that became the real design project to help them do that.


Birgit: In MAU: MC24 you claim that the task of the designer is not to solve the problem that the client is offering us, but to question that problem.

Yeah, I like to say that almost every client I've worked with expresses the problem as a solution. They say, “we need a new logo”. Or, “we need a new flag”. What they're really saying is that they think the solution is a logo. And often in the process, we discover actually they may need a new logo, but the real problem is elsewhere or in some ways much more complex. The methodology we developed — we began to call it enterprise design — was to really think about designing the enterprise as a holistic entity.




Read the full interview on our latest issue of Touchpoint Vol. 12 No. 3, you can purchase your copy here!

You can watch the video of the full interview on our Watch and Learn page! (Exclusive for SDN Members only)


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